Thursday, 9 June 2011

Textiles in TO

My friend Jen will be leaving at the end of the summer for Ireland, to attend medical school. Her visits home for the next few years, therefore, are likely going to be few and short. So I took advantage of the fact that I had three days between shearing and my cousin’s wedding, left the cat to enjoy herself at my parents’, and took the train up to Toronto to visit Jen – and my brother Joe, who is in TO also. He is the sort who always knows somewhere cool to go (he introduced us to Gadabout, on Queen, last year – a fun little vintage store), so he treated us to dinner at a chic and tasty tapas place one night, and we cooked dinner for him the second night.
A couple days isn’t a lot of time to go exploring in the city, but I did see a few things. St Lawrence Market, where we went for dinner supplies. Absolutely a ton of tasty things there, and I suspect I would shop there a lot if I lived nearby. Paul Kane’s house, which I stumbled on accidentally strolling with Jen to her work. It caught my eye, being an old, farmhouse-style place in the downtown, with pink-flowered chestnut trees in front. And last but not least, the Textile Museum.
About the Museum – it’s not a big place, and there wasn’t a lot of permanent collection on display, so I’m not sure I would have gone if the special exhibits weren’t of interest. But the two exhibits on – one on central Asian Ikat (and some embroidered things as well), and one on African textiles – were wonderful. You are allowed to take pictures without a flash, so I can show you a little of the fun, even if I can’t give a real idea of the colors of the ikat. It’s amazing to think of the work in them, as for each color, the silk warp threads are tied in bunches, the sections to stay undyed are wrapped, and the bundles are dyed. Most of them have several colors, and the color patches showing on the warp-faced weave form flowers or stylized designs.

 The embroidered suzani were gorgeous too, richly colored and detailed in pattern. I’ve seen pictures of a few in a Piecework article, but the real thing was much better.

Then came the African things – such a variety. Woven blankets with supplementary weft giving spots of color. Embroidered caps. An appliqu├ęd door hanging. Lovely patterns my fingers want to produce and adapt.

And in the permanent collection, I had to take a picture of some adorable Chinese childrens’ hats and collars, with stuffed and embroidered detail.

The gift shop was a wonder, too. Many textiles similar to those in the exhibits, and I only wish I could have justified buying a few, or spending longer poring over the books (largest collection of knitting and needlearts books I’ve seen in a while, and possibly rivals Chapters). But, I had to go help with dinner, so I tore myself away.

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